Voting via SMS in the election: reality or fantasy?
A politician asks people to vote via SMS whether they want malls in villages. ‘No way’ — comes their response.
“What an idea, Sirji,” says a beaming Abhishek Bachchan, appearing as the politician’s tech-savvy secretary in the popular TV campaign for mobile operator Idea Cellular.
India is the fastest growing telecom market in the world — why can’t one vote via SMS?
If I can transfer money or check my bank balance using my mobile phone, is voting-via-SMS impossible?
“Any mechanism used for electoral voting should ensure equal access for all,” says analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
“Voting is the one moment when we are all equal in democracy,” he adds.
Well yes, but in a country where over 700 million people are eligible to vote and more than half that number have access to mobile phones (375 million according to TRAI data), wouldn’t a voting-on-the-go option also help counter voter apathy.
Rajat Mukarji, head of Corporate Affairs at Idea Cellular, agrees.
Voting via SMS “on a principal level is within the realm of possibility as long as unique voter identities can be established,” says Mukarji.
If a proper screening process is put in place, the SMS vote can be a valid tool for democracy in India. After all, millions of Indians do use SMSes to decide the fate of reality show contestants on various TV channels.
As for voter apathy, appeals by Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan and that incessant ‘Jaago Re’ ad exhorting people to exercise their franchise have worked. At least for me.
I have got myself registered to vote, taking time to analyse which candidate will be the recipient of my precious ballot.
Technology is certainly aiding me. Blogs and YouTube videos from candidates keep me informed about their campaign strategies and Google’s India election center keeps me in the loop about my constituency.
Now all I have to do is cast my vote. Why can’t I vote via SMS? Am I asking for too much?